By Hugo Martin, Los Angeles Times –
In another possible sign of an improving U.S. economy, private companies added 216,000 more jobs in February, according to a study released Wednesday by a private company.
The new numbers mark a significant improvement over the 173,000 new jobs added in January, according to Automatic Data Processing Inc. a New Jersey-based human resources, payroll and benefits company that releases a monthly jobs report based on data from nearly 500,000 clients.
The biggest jump in new jobs came in the service sector, which added 170,000 jobs, according to the report. “Goods-producing” businesses, including agriculture, construction and manufacturing added 46,000 jobs in February.
“For February, virtually every sector of the economy added jobs — something I hope will continue for the rest of 2012,” said Carlos Rodriguez, president of Automatic Data Processing.
The increase in new jobs in February marks the 25th consecutive monthly gain in private-sector employment and suggests the national unemployment rate of 8.3 percent may have dropped slightly, said Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, a St. Louis-based economic forecasting firm that partnered with ADP to produce the monthly report.
“Conditions continue to improve at a moderate pace and are consistent with other indicators suggesting some firming of the labor market,” he added.
The U.S. Labor Department is scheduled to release its job statistics for February on Friday.